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Talk Radio Heats Up the Air (Waves) in Wheeling

Talk Radio Heats Up the Air (Waves) in Wheeling

Like most cults, radio talk show listeners do their best to blend into society. But inevitably, something will give them up. A slip of the tongue such as “Dittos!” or “Go take on the day!” and they are unmasked. This person is a Talk Radio Junkie.

In Wheeling, people are talking about talk radio. Generally the haven of older people, the local talk radio scene has become as hot a topic around water coolers as the latest Monica Lewinski joke.

As reported some months ago, WWVA (1170 AM) has moved to a news/talk format, directly competing with WOMP (1290-AM). Dimitri Vassilaros is the new WVVA morning talk-show host. Billed as “Live and Dangerously Local,” Vassilaros’s style is to “stir the pot” with provocative statements.

In a market that had one popular local radio talk-show host for nearly three decades, Vassilaros realized he had to enter with guns blazing. Howard Monroe, the 46-year-old host of WOMP-AM’s morning talk show, is long established as the reigning “emperor” — his term — of talk radio.

“I would do the same thing if I were him,” Monroe said. “Being controversial is particularly important if you’re trying to generate attention. He was outspoken and in-your-face with his viewpoints. Right or wrong, it got him noticed.”

Stylistically, they are much further apart than their proximity on the AM dial. Monroe checks in on the side of “the Establishment,” a distinction that may cause him to cringe. He’s a liberal — more liberal than most of his callers. And he’s responsible; Monroe is an active member of the community and can often be found at council meetings and public forums. He even sits on committees with community development agendas. On the other hand, Vassilaros is a Libertarian, generally falling on the extreme right wing of the political curve.

“I’m here to butcher a few sacred cows,” he said. Vassilaros is the Hamburger Helper in a world-view skewed by mad cow disease.”
— Dimitri Vassilaros.

Vassilaros takes issue with that notion. “To say my views are right-wing implies that if I moderated, I would be a Republican. But those distinctions are meaningless. There is no significant difference between Republicans and Democrats.”

“Libertarians believe that less government is better,” Vassilaros said. “The Constitution is our contract with America. We really don’t need much beyond that.”

Monroe’s views are unabashedly more moderate. “I’m tolerant — even of things I might personally find reprehensible,” he said. But Monroe will shift his stand from “slightly left of middle of the road” for the sake of argument. “It’s no good if the callers and I agree all the time,” he pointed out. “I’ll play the devil’s advocate sometimes just to stimulate conversation. But my real viewpoints are clear. I don’t go out of my way to enrage people.”

Contrast that with Vassilaros: “I’m here to butcher a few sacred cows,” he said. Vassilaros is the Hamburger Helper in a world-view skewed by mad cow disease.

“Up to now, the local media has done a piss-poor job of asking the hard questions,” he said. For example, when Vassilaros first came to Wheeling, the new “Intermodal Transportation Center,” a part of the National Heritage development, was nearing completion. Despite the fancy name, everyone knew that it was simply a parking garage, designed to replace a 40-year-old steel albatross known as the Warf Parking Garage a block away. The older structure was to be demolished to make way for the development of a riverfront park.

“I would do the same thing if I were him,” Monroe maintained. “Being controversial is particularly important if you’re trying to generate attention. He was outspoken and in-your-face with his viewpoints. Right or wrong, it got him noticed.” — WOMP talk show host Howard Monroe.

“Why are we tearing down a perfectly good garage and using federal tax pork to build a new one?” Vassilaros cried, hammering on the point for days. Shortly thereafter, a local businessman publicly presented plans to save the Warf Garage and suggested taking legal action to stop the demolition. Ultimately, the plan failed. The new building opened and the old garage was demolished. But Vassilaros’ impact was indisputable.

Another issue for the newcomer centered on the City of Wheeling’s study of the salary structure for municipal employees. The results of the study called for raises to be given to many employees. Vassilaros pounded the issue for weeks, calling it “The Million Dollar Heist.” He unsuccessfully tried on the air to get City Manager Will Turani to explain the rationale for the raises. Interview requests turned into downright baiting. Shouting slightly off-mic to producer Darren Feast, Vassilaros would say, “Has Will Turani called back? Unbelievable!”

“Unbelievable” may be Vassilaros’ favorite word. His constant state of incredulous aggravation lends itself well to the term. “How can the City of Wheeling justify an $800,000 pay grab for employees, yet they don’t have enough money to fix potholes?” he cries. “They paid a consultant $40,000 to compare Wheeling to Mt. Lebanon and Shaker Heights, and guess what? We don’t pay our secretaries as much as they get paid in these rich suburbs. Our tax dollars at work! Unbelievable!”

Monroe uses the word too, but not nearly as often, perhaps because he has lived in Wheeling long enough to find most things unbelievable. “I have a pretty good perspective on how things work here,” he said. “And that’s not to say I always — or even often — agree with it. But the garage issue was something most people here saw evolve.”

“The Federal Prison project is another example of people falling in lock-step with their leaders,” according to Vassilaros. “County Commissioner Art McKenzie said that if the prison comes here, it would create 350 to 400 new jobs. What he doesn’t tell you is that 40 percent of those jobs, the higher-paying jobs, will be filled with people from out of the area.”

Posing a loaded hypothetical is one of Vassilaros’ favorite tactics. “Sometimes, you just have to state the question simply: What would you rather see being developed in your back yard? A federal prison or a K-Mart?” Never mind that no one with the means to accomplish it has shown any interest in developing a shopping mall on the site under consideration for the Federal Prison.

Sometimes Vassilaros steps on the wrong toes. When former WV First Lady and conductor of the Wheeling Symphony Rachael Worby was in the radio station suite appearing on a “light rock” morning show, he urged her to come into his studio. According to several witnesses at the station, she shouted “my ass” to him and stormed out of the lobby.

At this rate, how long can he last? The answer: as long as station management is happy with him. And that has more to do with selling commercial time than with irritating the power brokers. “My general manager, Larry Anderson, has used up lots of heat shields standing up for me,” Vassilaros said. “And I’m indebted to him for that.”

Vassilaros’ show has little to do with phone calls. From his sign-on time of 5:30 a.m., his format is so full of scheduled “updates” he barely takes any calls at all. He may take one or two throughout the early hours; he may not. At 8:35 he runs his “Radio Graffiti” segment, in which he takes a barrage of calls, usually inane, about any subject. Callers offer a short piece (sometimes singing or doing imitations) and without interacting, the host moves on to the next call. Hardly thought-provoking stuff. At 9 a.m. he features a guest. If you’re looking for substance, that’s when you may find it.

With open talk for the first hour, Monroe’s format is a direct contrast. Following the 7 a.m. news, he talks live to Ellen Ratner, the station’s Washington correspondent. From 9 to 10, it’s open talk featuring a revolving cast of regular guests.

Locally, Monroe and Vassilaros are the best of their ilk. And that’s not bad. Each has his strengths and weaknesses. In the grand scheme of things, of course, it’s just talk radio. But it is an interesting little war. And since the owners of WWVA, Atlantic Star, own all the radio stations in town except WOMP, it really is the only possible local battlefield for a radio war.

Tips on Getting the Best Trekking Poles

Some years ago hardly anyone used trekking poles. Nowadays, it very rear to see someone on an adventure at night without using this trekking pole. These poles will help you improve balance on an even ground and saves you energy while you are going up or down trails. Trekking poles can reduce your force impact up to 40% around your knees. These trekking poles are a backpacker that every age can appreciate.

Factors to consider while shopping for a trekking pole

Pole adjustment mechanism

The lever lock poles are durable, quicker and easier to adjust than twist lock products. Nearly all of the lever lock styles just plain and outlasts the twist lock and are very niggling like the twist lock can be on dirty trails.

Material

Carbon fiber and aluminum are the most popular materials used in the construction of the trekking poles. Carbon is stiffer, stronger and lighter. Comparatively aluminum is heavier, but can take two digs and also keep on trekking.

Weight

Obviously, lighter is better than heavier. The weight of trekking poles is not equal to the weight of tents or parks. There is no significant difference between the trekking poles weight.

Reasons for a trekking pole

Helps arms propel
These poles will allow your arm to move upwards and forward. Whether you are walking up steep hills or on flat ground, poles will help you increase your average speed.

Reduces the legs impact

These poles play an important part in reducing the impact on your knees, feet and ankles. These types of poles are useful while going down a hill. They will reduce the force on your legs and knees by up to 25%.

Remove nuisances on your way

You can use these type of poles to remove nuisances on your path. It can push away thorny branches and wipe up spider webs on the trail making you comfortable.

Pros

Obviously, the best trekking poles reduce the impact on your knees while hiking. Shoulder and arm muscles relieve and support the leg muscles. With the basic needs already necessitated by the pole, circulation of blood is improved and the heart pump rate reduces.

While walking on a level ground, they do reduce the weight of the body carried by the legs by almost 5 kg every single step. This reduction will contribute to reducing the rate of tiresomeness hence hiking more and more.

As usual, when the temperatures are high, your hand may swell while hiking. While using this pole, your hand no longer swells up. You should keep your arms on the move so that blood will not pool in your hands.

Cons

If you use this pole you will increase the total energy expenditure. Your arms are not designed to distribute weight nor prop up your body. You can use a pole as an alternative after tired legs and knees.
Trekking poles can damage and break the ground making a risk of erosion. You should be responsible and avoid using these poles. They are a hazard to our environment.

About Me

Ronald Williams is a writer, author and blogger living in Western Virginia, US. He dreams of someday living somewhere warm and typesseting a novel.

I'm also a Bluetooth Speaker Geek!

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